Miami, FL -
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined the Hugh Hewitt Show
to discuss Taiwan, China, Brazil, Colombia, and woke corporations. See below for highlights and listen to the full interview here
On Taiwan and the Chinese Communist Party:
'There should be no ambiguity whatsoever about our defense commitments about what will happen and what the United States is committed to do should the Chinese cross that line. I think [it's] also important in that, the lack of that sort of clarity, I think, will encourage an attack, or encourage the Chinese to act more aggressively. 'The same is true with the assistance that we provide them. There should be no ambiguity about the assistance we provide them. It should be abundantly clear on both of those fronts. And I think anything that shows that we're backing off of that is only going to accelerate the timeline in which the Chinese Communist Party is going to make its move. And it may not be military. I mean, look, I think ultimately, the Chinese hope, the Chinese Communist Party's hope is that internally, within Taiwan, they'll be able to interfere in an election and get them, a party or an individual elected who will then seek unification and that sort of thing. I mean, that's their preference, but they've made pretty clear that if Taiwan were to ever declare independence, that they would move on them militarily. And the only thing that's stopped that from happening already is the notion that the U.S. government, or the United States, is going to stand up and defend Taiwan and live up to our commitments. There can be no ambiguity about that.'
On Taiwan's participation in the WHO:
'Number one, they have a lot to contribute. Number two, there are human beings living in Taiwan, and they deserve to have a voice in a world. You cannot be a World Health Organization if the world is not represented. And to sort of turn over to the Chinese Communist Party, which has hidden and covered up and been less than transparent, to say the least, about the origins of this virus and how it developed and in its early days set the world back in terms of its response by not being honest about it, to turn over the Taiwanese people's health care and health decisions at the global scale to the Chinese Communist Party is absurd. So they should absolutely be a part of it. 'And China calls anything that's a criticism of their actions as internal meddling. That's the code word they use. And by the way, it's what they go around the world telling [others,] 'Don't worry, we're not going to get involved in your internal politics'. Of course, they get involved in our internal politics and everybody else's. I mean, you can't produce a Hollywood film today that's critical of China, because the studios know they won't be distributed in China. It's a hypocrisy on the part of the Chinese Communist Party.'
On Chinese 'debt-trap diplomacy' in Africa:
'These are, these countries are small economies who are desperate to develop. They don't want to be put in a position of having to choose between the U.S. and China, because in their view, they need help from everyone and everywhere. So we should be smart about it and say look, we're not asking you to pick between us and them. What we're telling you is this is what happens when the Chinese come into one of your ports. They take over that port, and then they leverage it. In essence, they loan you a bunch of money to build it, and they lease it. But when you can't pay them back, then they take over it. And they use it not just for their navy, but for their commercial ships, which is what they want to do. They want to dominate global shipping in that way. And if you owe them money, they expect you to vote with them 100 percent of the time at international forums on every issue and so forth and so on. So sort of describe to them the way that the Chinese Communist Party uses leverage on these countries. 'They don't do anything out of the kindness of their hearts. There is no such thing as a Chinese global involvement where they get in for the good of mankind by the Communist Party and then leave without asking anything in return. They always ask for more in return than they give. And when you explain that to countries, and you offer them an alternative to what the Chinese are offering, or some potential for an alternative, it generally seems to work. Most of these countries would prefer not to have this situation with the Chinese, but they see very few options, in many cases. So that's the way to approach it, in my mind.'
On China's foreign influence operations in the United States:
'Well, they're very real and they're very different from what some of the crude instruments that the Russians would use. When the Chinese Communist Party is concerned, first of all, it's multifaceted. It's researchers; it's graduate students at universities, not so much undergraduate, but graduate students. It's businesspeople, but it's also leverage. Look, if you're a major corporation and you have business in China, they don't expect you just to do business in China. They expect a COO to come back to the United States and lobby on behalf of their interests and their narrative. That's the very clear expectation, so it's real. 'I expect the Chinese, or Chinese interests, meaning companies that do business in China and others that are controlled by people that are leveraged by the Chinese Communist Party to be involved in my election, my reelection. They're going to seek to support somebody to try to defeat me, and it'll be legal. They'll be able to do it in terms of campaign donations and influence operations and things of that nature. So I think it's a growing problem.'
On China and American corporate interests:
'If the Chinese kick you out of their economy, that's going to be a big hit, you know, and your revenue, and your shareholders are going to be unhappy. So these companies are all willing to do whatever it takes, even if long-term it's suicide for that corporation, because you're going to be replaced by a Chinese company that's stealing your secrets. In the short term, for a CEO that isn't going to be around by the time that happens, this is how they're being judged. And so they cave in. And not only do they cave in, they then come back to the United States and argue -- and they did this for a long time and still do -- 'you know, we really shouldn't treat the Chinese government this way, they're moving in the right direction. There's a lot of opportunity there. If we leave, they won't even know what real capitalism is.' They have; they have utilized capitalism against us. They understand how to use it against us, and they have done it at every level. But one of the things they've done is they've deputized major American corporations and their leaders to come to the United States to push for and pressure for policies that favor the Chinese position.'I would say that for someone who has a factory in China, and that factory is a key part of your growth for the company in the years to come, and you only have 5 percent of the Chinese market, but that 5 percent signifies a significant percentage of your company's revenue, they make it abundantly clear. 'Hey, you may not be allowed to do much business here anymore. You know, we're going to kick you out and bring somebody else in unless something like this happens.' They're pretty clear about that. That's a pretty clear understanding. 'And where I think that becomes really problematic is for people like a midsized business. But your supply chain depends on you making your product in China, because it's the only place you can make it cheap enough to sell it back here in the United States. And they make it pretty clear to you. That's a lot of leverage. And they make it pretty clear to you that unless you do what they're asking you to do, or if you step out of line, they'll close your factory. You'll be done, and then your company will be done. So I consider that to be a compromise. 'I think these big companies, they're more interested in being citizens of the world. These guys, they see a country with a billion and a half people. They want access. They have dreams of getting in there one day. Facebook is banned. Twitter is banned. All... but Apple's not banned, and Apple makes a lot of its products inside of China. And so you know, you ask a lot of these companies, if they lose the supply and the production capacity in China, it will cripple their company. That's a lot of leverage.'
On social media companies and China:
'Facebook is not in China. But I think they're increasingly concerned about China's growing telecommunication influence all over these other countries around the world. And so they don't want to get, you know, they don't want to be, they don't want to start running into problems in these other places where the Chinese go to some country and say hey, you should get rid of Facebook and replace it with our version of Facebook. So I think they're concerned about that, absolutely. And I think he still dreams and hopes that one day, they'll be able to get into China. At one point, they were willing to design a Facebook that met the Chinese standards. And all these companies, by the way, they do this all over the world. 'They will tailor, if an authoritarian regime says you can have Twitter in this country, but you need to censor X, Y, and Z, they'll censor those people for them, but they won't censor those leaders. We've got world leaders, authoritarian figures who can say whatever they want online, but [if you're] an elected American politician, Twitter will kick you off. Facebook will kick you off. This is total hypocrisy.'
On Silicon Valley CEOs:
'I think they do understand [the Chinese Communist Party]. I don't think it matters for what they're interested in. In general, [these CEOs] consider themselves citizens of the world. Yeah, they live in the United States. They have citizenship in this country, but they consider themselves citizens of the world. And when you consider yourself a citizen of the world, you don't view things through the lens of 'what's in the best interest of my country?' You view things through the lens of what's in the best interests of the entire world. And those things, sometimes, are not compatible, so I think that's where the challenge lies here. 'Part of it is the revenue. At this point, these companies depend on revenue based on these business models. And part of it was, early on, was a lot of, I mean, five years ago, eight years ago, social media and the internet, the revolutions that were going on, people viewed as some of the greatest developments in the history of mankind. It had democratized communication, democratized information and knowledge. And now, it's turned into this Frankenstein monster that has these other side effects to it, and now they're sort of playing defense. So part of the agenda as well is they saw the Democrats take the House, the Senate, the White House, and they immediately pivoted to appeasement so they wouldn't be targeted with regulations they don't like.'
On Secretary Blinken's comments to 'uphold the so-called rules-based international order' when dealing with China:
'China's going to be a rich and powerful country for the rest of our lifetime and beyond. That's not the issue. The issue is whether it's going to supplant the United States. The issue is whether it's going to become the world's dominant country. And the real issue from a national security perspective is whether a dangerous imbalance develops between the U.S. and China where they become more powerful and have more leverage over us, and there is not a way to balance out against it, because I think in time, the system that they have in place is not a sustainable one. 'It may take a hundred years or fifty, but I don't think the system they have in place is sustainable for a lot of different reasons. But it won't matter if they supplant us and as a result become the world's most dominant country. That's really the fundamental issue here, and that's what needs to be understood, okay? 'China is not going to become more like us as they become richer and prosperous. They're going to become a bigger challenge for us. And we're either up to the challenge, or we're going to live in a world where the most powerful country on the planet and the most powerful government on the planet is an authoritarian one that takes Uyghur Muslims, puts them into concentration camps, forces them to work and produce goods that are then sold by American corporations in the United States.'
On the Biden Administration's posture toward China:
'What we need to be more concerned about is the fact that you've got a bunch of people inside this administration who have a very different view of this whole situation when it comes to China, or are late-comers to it, and it's not just because they're from the left. There are plenty of people from the right that are wrong about it, because in their mind, well, the free market says that it's cheaper to buy pharmaceuticals from China, and we shouldn't disrupt that. That's the free market. That's not the free market. That's our free market versus mercantilist policies on their part in which they are able to control the means of production. They're able to undercut our competitors. 'Of course, you can't produce pharmaceuticals in the United States. We make it hard on our end, and then they come in and they undercut us by subsidizing the companies so that they knock all of our capacity out until we lose our industrial capacity. You've got a lot of people that still haven't figured that out, particularly in the finance sector out of Wall Street. And they give more to the Democrats now than to the Republican Party for a reason. So I'm very concerned about that and the influence that would ultimately have, because I can tell you what those voices are going to be saying when a moment of potential conflict comes with China, and that is do whatever you can not to have conflict, because it's going to cost us billions of dollars to the economy.'
On the importance of respecting Chinese-American citizens and permanent residents while maintaining a strong U.S.-China policy:
'First of all, the number one victims -- the people who have suffered the most under the Chinese Communist Party -- are the Chinese people, especially the ones who have come here as a result of fleeing it. 'Number two, we have a long history of relying on exiles and refugees from these sorts of regimes to better our country. I think about the community I come from. You know, this country has had a firm policy, for the most part, against the Castro regime in Cuba for over 60 years. But it warmly has welcomed the participation of Cuban exiles in American politics. So we were able to separate Cuban exiles who fled and were opposed to Castro from the actions of the Castro regime. And the same is true here. 'We have to be able, as a nation, to separate the actions of a communist regime in Beijing from the people, particularly from the people that flee that situation over there. And we have to do while at the same time acknowledging that there are students in our universities, particularly at the graduate level, who are members of the Communist Party of China, who are members of the military of China, and are sent here for the purpose of stealing trade secrets and bringing them back. Some of them do it willfully, some of them do it because they're being leveraged, because they're being promised things back home and maybe even threatened. And some are here deliberately for that purpose. So we have to be able to deal with that while at the same time acknowledging that a Chinese-American is an American.'
On U.S. assistance for India and Brazil amid the COVID-19 pandemic:
'I think both with India and Brazil, we should do everything we can to be helpful, obviously. It's clear that in the United States we now have sufficient supplies… Particularly in India, the situation is truly catastrophic. And our partnership with India is going to be critical to the future of the Asia-Pacific region. Brazil is the largest country in Latin America, one of the largest countries in the world, and an important ally for us on a number of fronts.
On the recent protests in Colombia, and how the United States should respond:
'What's happening in Colombia is not organic. And I'm not telling you every person on the street comes from this, but there is clearly and undeniably an orchestrated effort on the part of these narco-trafficking Marxist guerilla groups, aided by their international Marxist supporters, to destabilize a democratically elected, pro-American government. This is a fact. We know this. We know this has been building. And I don't think it's a coincidence that you're seeing these actions. In fact, I think it's being spurred on by these elements that seek to undermine and destabilize the government of Colombia for purposes of leading to chaos and either winning the next election or seeing [Duque's] government crumble and be replaced by one that's a Marxist one and more friendly to Venezuela, Cuba, and international Marxism.''I think [the United States] should say that President Duque is a democratically elected president. He's a great ally of the United States. If Colombia goes down -- if Colombia becomes anything close to what Venezuela has become -- our hemisphere is in a lot of trouble, and America is going to pay the price. We don't have a stronger partner in the Western Hemisphere than Colombia. They're both capable and willing, and we need to step forward and say that. And we need to step forward and say it is in the national interest of the United States for there to be stability. 'This is the president and the government that [were] democratically elected in a free and fair election by the people of Colombia, and we are going to be supportive of all the initiatives that they're undertaking. That includes, of course, vaccine diplomacy and things of this nature. It includes our continued defense and security partnership with them. But [we] also need to make it abundantly clear that we're not going to turn around and abandon the democratically elected government of Colombia because some Marxist elements have spurred on some protests that look bad on TV, and Western journalists here in the United States who have no clue about what's behind it, because they barely cover the region and don't understand it, just view it as some sort of organic uprising of people who are frustrated about the economy.'
On the legacy media's coverage of international affairs:
'A lot of the coverage today is covered by political reporters, and they don't cover this from a foreign policy angle, they cover it from a domestic, political angle -- what does this mean for the elections, and public polling, and things of this nature. These are nuanced and complicated things, but this is not a time of nuance and complexity [in the media]. This is a time of very simple, 'Can I write a story that will outrage you and get you to read and click?' So that's the first part of it. 'The second part of it is they don't understand it. I mean there are correspondents in these countries that cover this, and we know that there's a leftward lean in journalism, not just in the United States but around the world. That's a fact. And that bias is always going to play in. Bias may not play in terms that everything they write may be factual, but if you get to pick the facts and ignore other facts, you get to set a narrative. And the narrative they always set is any government that's pro-American, especially if they're right-of-center, is evil and doing something wrong and the people are standing up to them. Any government that's left-of-center and anti-American is a government that's brave and courageous, and it's the U.S. or some other element that's not doing enough to help them, and that's why people are upset. That's always the narrative, story after story.'